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A Few Handy Tips for Creating Three-Dimensional Characters

Great Writing Thoughts!

The Persnickety Proofreader

I’ve been invited to give a talk (and conduct a workshop) about writing fiction at a local writers’ conference in Chattanooga on January 20. Over the years, from crafting my own fiction as well as editing other people’s manuscripts, I’ve learned a thing or three about creating realistic characters.

When writing fiction – whether your particular vehicle of choice is flash fiction, short stories or novel-length fiction – every author should keep some basic elements in mind, not the least of which is how to develop believable, three-dimensional characters.

Years ago, at a writing workshop I attended in Connecticut, our instructor led us through an exercise in creating detailed character profiles. The queries she posed ranged from our characters’ physical attributes to relationships with parents, and from childhood experiences to favorite and least-favorite things. Here are some of the items from that list:

  • Name
  • Date of birth
  • Eye color/hair color

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Wompus Waving!

Hello Friends,

Today I am sharing something out of the ordinary. Our son’s cat, Wompus, was in the kitchen window trying to help me with dishes this morning. But our dog, Brownie, chased her into the spare bedroom, so I closed the door. That’s where I keep her at night with the door shut, and that’s where all of her stuff is.

Anyway, I finished dishes, then was pretreating some laundry when I noticed Wompus’s little paws coming out from under the door. So I had to film her! Hopefully, you can hear her purrs, too.

She is quite a character. I think she is competing with our dog to see who is really “queen” of the house now. Our son warned us she might try to take over. But I just can’t keep her cooped up all the time, so I let her wander, especially while Brownie is asleep, which is most of the day anyway.

I never thought I would become attached to a cat, but she is pretty funny and irresistible. She nuzzles me a lot and loves to play with ribbon. But she still doesn’t sit with me in a chair. Go figure. However, she did just walk across my keyboard as I was typing this! Crazy cat.

Also, here’s a shark graphite drawing I have been working on the last couple of nights. Forgive me, but I have not gotten my paint colors figured out for my leafy sea dragon yet. So I haven’t started it. Is the suspense killing you? Probably not, but as they say in recovery groups I’ve been to in the past, “keep coming back.”

Here is the new shark pencil drawing so far. As you can see, I need to darken it in a lot of places. Plus I want to put the sea floor in that is below it.

I also have been spending this morning reading for my next assignment in my writing class. I need to come up with three ideas for stories and/or articles. I have several article ideas and a couple of story ones, but now I have to outline them and write a synopsis for each story. Plus I have to do marketing research for potential places to submit the work if I were going to do that. So back to work!

Have a wonderful day, and give someone you love a big hug! 🙂

 

SUICIDE ANNIVERSARY

Hello Friends,

I don’t normally do this, but today I was reminded that last year on this day, my brother committed suicide.  So I am going to re-post the post I wrote last year for any who may have never seen it.

May is Mental Health Awareness month.  If you are feeling lonely, discouraged, or severely depressed, call someone…please.

Have a wonderful day, and give someone you love a big hug!  🙂

 

Hello Friends,

I have been feeling a little reluctant to write about this, but honestly, I don’t see how I can NOT write about it.  This will be long; bear with me, please.

On the morning of May 5th, 2017, I learned that one of my brothers committed suicide on May 4th. In a way, I wasn’t surprised when I thought back on the last time I had spoken with him.  He called me out of the blue about a month before this and asked me if I knew where his daughter was.  I thought this was a strange question since I have not seen her since she was three years old!  She and her mom left California in the early ’80’s when her mom and my brother divorced.  Anyway, I asked him why he needed to find her.  I asked him if he was sick.  He said he wasn’t sick, but he couldn’t hardly walk anymore. He said he wanted her to be able to have all of his part of the financial investments that our parents left us “just in case something happens to me.”  In the back of my mind I had a flash of what he may have been planning.  However, I did not ask him if he was feeling suicidal.  I wish I had.   I was actually surprised that he even called me.

My brother and I had a very rocky relationship for most of our lives.  I never really understood why.  I am the youngest.  He was the middle sibling.  We were four and a half years apart.  He would have been 61 this July.  He always seemed closer to our other brother.  However, throughout our lives we all really went our separate ways.  The closest I ever felt to either of them was when we went through the death of our mother in 2006.  Our father died three years later.  So our eldest brother had to handle all of the inheritance stuff.  It was a very stressful time for all of us.  Since then, we have all lived separately; my oldest brother left the area and my other brother and I never knew where he was until about three years ago.

That was when my middle brother decided to call me and apologize for everything he had ever done to hurt me.  He was crying and truly sorry.  This was something I had been praying for since 1987 when God had turned my life around.  I had tried many times to make amends with him, but he was just not ready.  Needless to say, I was thankful for that call.  I told him I had forgiven him many years ago and had been praying we might be able to have that conversation someday.  I told him I had always wanted to know him and I loved him.  I asked him if we could just start to have a relationship then, but he said he didn’t want to.  He was addicted to drugs and couldn’t get clean.  He was living in a trailer park where he had been for the last 20 years.  He didn’t know how to change, and he didn’t ask anyone for help that I know of.  I felt helpless, but I let him be.  I called him a few times just to see how he was doing, but he just didn’t know how to connect with me.

I believe he suffered from mental illness his whole life; most likely anxiety and depression, just as I have since I was at least 15.  Looking back on my childhood, I now believe my dad suffered from depression and this was why he drank.  I also think my mom had anxiety issues not just because of his drinking, but because of her own chemical make-up.  She was always worrying about everything and everyone.

I went through my drug and alcohol abuse days from about 1980 to 1987.  That was the year I quit everything and got help through counseling and an ACA (adult children of alcoholics) meeting every week for a couple of years. However, both of my brothers kept using drugs and alcohol for the rest of their lives.  My brother who died was hurt on a job many years ago and was getting pain medicine through the veterans hospital.  He was in the Navy for four years when he was right out of high school.   Apparently, though, his back became so bad, he could hardly walk anymore.  I believe that he just chose to die to escape the pain that was consuming him.

I have been that low many, many times myself emotionally.  However, I am thankful to have a loving husband and two children who love me and would never ever want me to make that choice just to escape any pain I may go through in my life.  It doesn’t solve anything, and it leaves those whom the person left behind in shock, angry, and sad.

When I learned of my brother’s suicide, I was definitely shocked.  Then I was angry for a few days. Then I had to begin dealing with the aftermath of what would happen to him and his stuff.  At the time I didn’t have a clue as to where his daughter was.  Then his best friend found my brother’s ex-wife’s phone number.  She was contacted and then my niece was.  Yesterday I spent most of the day on the phone with my 37-year-old niece whom I do not even know.  It was strange, but good.

Hopefully, just getting in touch with her will be the blessing that comes out of his sad choice.  My brother and his daughter were estranged from each other for most of their lives as well.  I always felt sad about that, but hopefully she and I can build a relationship with one another now even though we live very far apart.

To this day I have no clue as to where my other brother lives.  We became estranged after our parents were both gone eight years ago.  He left the area and has never wanted to come back. However, our brother who died did have a best friend who knew where our oldest brother was.  So the same month that my brother called and apologized to me, he also went and found our other brother to make amends with him as well.  However, I have no way to find our eldest brother to try and do the same.  He is living off the grid which is what he always wanted.

I know this has been a very long post; if you stayed with me, thank you.  I wrote this to encourage anyone who is thinking about suicide or knows anyone who is, to tell you to please reach out for help.  There is lots of help to be found!  First, try to talk to someone you know.  If that doesn’t help, call a local suicide hotline.  Or call 1-800-273-8255.  This is the number for Suicide Prevention Services of America.  Their website is http://www.spsamerica.org if you want more information.  I have never used their services, but I am sure there would be someone there to talk to.

Well, friends, I am definitely going to be reaching out for some help myself in dealing with this.  I have talked with someone locally whom I am planning to meet this afternoon.  Perhaps this is going to be the start of something good.

Have a wonderful day, and give someone you love a big hug!  🙂

Writing Project Finished!

Hello Friends, 

I do not have any new artwork to post yet, however, I did want to share that I have finally completed my seventh assignment for my writing class!  Yay!

I wrote a fictional story about a teenager who is a senior in high school and has been getting tattoos since she turned 18 in an effort to hide her scars from her addiction to cutting.

This has been the most challenging writing I have ever done and although I struggled with it, I enjoyed the process.  I also had to include a cover letter as if I were going to submit it somewhere. So now I will wait and see what my instructor has to say about it!

Hopefully, I will have some new work to post sometime this week.  It seems I may have a slightly pulled muscle from working out the other day; not sure how it happened, though.

Until next time…

Have a wonderful day, and give someone you love a big hug!  🙂

I AM BUSY WRITING!!

Calvin and Hobbes

by Bill Watterson

 

Hello Friends,

It has been quite some time since I posted!  I have been reading a Calvin & Hobbes comic book I bought really cheap at Barnes and Noble a few weeks ago.  It brings back memories of our son reading them out loud to us all the time when he was a kid.  He has a stack of those books!  But I decided to buy one for myself.  Bill Watterson is such a talented artist and humorist.  I have always loved his comics.

In other news I have been busy with my writing class’s assignment over the past couple of weeks.  I have consulted with my instructor about the story I came up with about a girl who is a cutter.   I found a literary magazine in the Writer’s Market book that accepts submissions up to 5000 words!  My story is almost half that, but I am still working on it.  I don’t want to make it that long, but it is nice to be able to have that much room to tell it instead of it having to be 500 or 1000 words only!  Plus, I am not planning to send it to this magazine.  Finding one was just part of the assignment.  We also have to write a cover letter which I haven’t done before.  I have also been reading a lot of children’s and young adults fiction.  I read Charlotte’s Web for the first time…and cried.  It was so good!  But I couldn’t get into Stuart Little.

I have only sketched a couple of things in watercolors in the last week but unfortunately, they didn’t come out great so I won’t be posting them.  I haven’t been drawing much either.  Just one of those weird months, I guess.

But I thought I would at least check in and tell everyone that I will have something new soon.  I hope everyone is doing well.

I am doing well.  I had a “procedure” (that I won’t mention ) done last Friday that wiped me out for the weekend.  So this has been a busy week getting back into the swing of things.  But life is great!  I hope everyone has had a good week!

Have a wonderful day, and give someone you love a big hug!  🙂

BLOGGING IS COURAGEOUS!!!

Hello Friends,

I have had such a great week!  First, I want to share quickly that I finished my Assignment 6 story which is a story about a girl with the compulsion to cut, and it is targeted at middle-school to teen-aged kids.  I haven’t turned it in yet, though, because I have another part of my assignment to finish also.  But it will definitely be in before March 1st!  I am proud of myself which is not as difficult to say as it used to be for me.

Second, I am working on a mama and baby porcupine watercolor, but because of all the writing, I am taking it easy with my arm.  I am still working out (not every day) but when I do, it helps a lot.

Lastly, the reason I titled this post “BLOGGING IS COURAGEOUS” is because I have been blessed to have many new followers lately, and NEW bloggers who have begun blogging about their challenges with depression and anxiety and other mental health issues.  To all of you who have recently found and followed me, congratulations!  Keep on blogging, try not to get discouraged, and make lots of friends.

It is challenging and blogging and making new friends online has been very rewarding for me.  Keep up the great work bloggers!

Have a wonderful day, and give someone you love a big hug!  🙂

Reviewing The Craft of Creative Fiction Writing by Pawan Mishra

A great short book with some good food for thought.

Have a wonderful day, and give someone you love a big hug! 🙂

MeeshaSlays

Reviewing Book: On Writing Wonderfully: The Craft of Creative Fiction Writing
by Pawan Mishra

Three words that come to mind after completing this book: short, straightforward and actually helpful.

37788871 Taken from Goodreads

Pawan Mishra has done an amazing job at covering some of the most important things concerning creative writing. He has answered to writers’ questions, doubts, and insecurities. Like every creative soul, writers too often suffer from the dilemma that their work isn’t good enough and Pawan has managed to guide them through that phase. In such a phase, writers tend to completely avoid writing but with Pawan’s 21 techniques, it should be a piece of cake.

14594440 Pawan Mishra, author.

Below are a few of the quotes I loved from this ebook:

A writer can do without food for a few hours but not without the sight of books.

If you are a singer, you must sing. If you are a…

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Mental Health Recovery

Hello Friends,

Recently I found this man’s blog.  His name is James Edgar Skye.  I wanted to share this post of his with you to encourage anyone who struggles with any type of mental illness.  The road is tough for us, but when we get help, take medication if we need it, and have support, we CAN accomplish our goals.

I have been taking a correspondence course through the Institute of Children’s Literature since about August.  I am halfway through it now!  My sixth assignment is to write a story using the character I created in my fifth assignment.  So my wheels have been spinning as I read other writer’s stories in my text.

I know most of you know me as a watercolor/drawing artist, however, when I began this blog over five years ago, I was focusing on writing.  The blog helped to motivate me.  I have wanted to be a writer for as long as I can remember.  However, I have started many pieces, such as my memoir and a novel, that I have yet to finish.  That’s okay.  Right now I want to learn to write short stories for teenagers and write about serious issues that many of them face daily such as depression, anxiety, cutting, and various addictions.

So I encourage you to read James’s post as well and be encouraged.  Struggling with mental illness is difficult, but we can still achieve our goals with a lot of hard work.  Encouraging each other along the way is also key.

Have a wonderful day, and give someone you love a big hug!  🙂

 

Thanks for sharing your life with us, James.  🙂  Please read on to get to know James.

Yesterday I introduced a new series on the blog. My real life journal entries during some of my toughest times. My Mental Illness Journal. Today I want to talk about goals in mental health recovery. What Are Your Mental Health Recovery Goals? In the life with a mental illness, it can seem difficult to set […]

via Goals in Mental Health Recovery — The Bipolar Writer

PUFFER FISH INK DRAWING

Hello Friends,

Here is a silly puffer fish I drew quite a while back.  I don’t think I ever posted it, but if it’s a repeat, sorry!  I drew it in ink which was fun.  I tried to upload another drawing I did, but again, we are having slow internet problems with the rain that came in today.

Fortunately, I think my husband and I are all well from that flu bug.  From what I understand it could have been a lot worse.  I am thankful it only lasted a week!  He still has the cough, but mine is pretty much gone.

I finished my fifth assignment for my writing class today and sent it in.  So that is good!  I am glad to be done with it.  The first part was to write a physical description of a kid.  The second part was to write my character’s thoughts.  I chose to do a monologue about a teen-aged girl who can’t understand why people think it’s weird that she is a “cutter.”  If you have never heard of that before, it is a psychological disorder that some kids and adults have where they much cut themselves in an effort to r

I have been doing a lot of reading of young adult fiction lately.  I picked up the first book in a three-book series by Orson Scott Card a few weeks ago.  I am almost done with the first book, “Pathfinder.”  Wow!  I have NEVER read science fiction before, but this is truly incredible!  I have hardly been able to put it down.  His sense of humor is refreshing, too.  I went to town yesterday for a routine doctor’s appointment and checked out the second book.  I am hoping to finish the first one by tomorrow.  So for now, I am going to get back to reading!

Have a wonderful day, and give someone you love a big hug!  🙂

 

Rejection Means I Tried!

Hello Friends!

I wanted to share with you what I received in my e-mail on my birthday!  (The letter is below)  I thought it was funny that it came that day!!  It has been months since I spontaneously submitted my picture book to this contest.  I didn’t expect to win at all, but I  am glad they let me know anyway.  So I guess this means I am officially a writer??  Ha, ha.  It’s fine.  I have never submitted anything before so it was a good experience.

I need to get started on my next writing project for my class.  I haven’t been doing any art this week.  My husband took two weeks off from work so we have had a lot more time to spend together.  We had car problems and had our car in the shop a couple of days so he took our daughter to work very early in the morning a couple of days, because she doesn’t want to drive his 5 speed Nissan truck.  She hasn’t learned how to drive a stick shift.

I hope everyone’s holiday season is going well.  My husband and I went to town yesterday, and it was a ZOO!!  I really want to stay away from there during the next week or so; it is just too crazy!

Until I have something to post next time…

Have a wonderful day, and give someone you love a big hug!  And happy holidays!!  🙂

 

 

Sparkhouse Family submissions@sparkhouse.org via email.submittable.com 

Dec 14 (2 days ago)

to me

Dear Patsy Parker,

Thank you for submitting “Larry the Lonely Leatherback” to the Sparkhouse Family Children’s Picturebook Contest. Unfortunately, the submission wasn’t a good fit for us at this time. We received many excellent entries and the competition was very stiff. I hope you’ll consider submitting again if you have additional work that you think will be a good fit for our publishing house.

All the best,
The editors at Sparkhouse Family

You can go here to view the submission:
https://sparkhousefamily.submittable.com/user/submissions/8547122

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